Category Archives: Family & Work

Family-Friendly Policies, Gender, and Work–Life Balance in the Public Sector

Source: Mary K. Feeney, Justin M. Stritch, Review of Public Personnel Administration, Volume 39 Issue 3, September 2019
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Family-friendly policies and culture are important components of creating a healthy work environment and are positively related to work outcomes for public employees and organizations. Furthermore, family-friendly policies and culture are critical mechanisms for supporting the careers and advancement of women in public service and enhancing gender equity in public sector employment. While both policies and culture can facilitate women’s participation in the public sector workforce, they may affect men and women differently. Using data from a 2011 study with a nationwide sample of state government employees, we investigate the effects of employee take-up of leave policies, employer supported access to child care, alternative work scheduling, and a culture of family support on work–life balance (WLB). We examine where these variables differ in their effects on WLB among men and women and make specific recommendations to further WLB among women. The results inform the literature on family-friendly policies and culture in public organizations.

Work–Life Program Participation and Employee Work Attitudes: A Quasi-Experimental Analysis Using Matching Methods

Source: Sun Young Kim, David Lee, Review of Public Personnel Administration, OnlineFirst, January 13, 2019

From the abstract:
Work–life programs (WLPs) have been widely adopted and implemented by public organizations as a means of providing employees with greater choices and flexibility in coordinating their work and personal lives. Although previous research has shown that these programs are positively related to various employee attitudes and behaviors, empirical evidence about whether and how such relationships vary by type of WLP is relatively scant. In this study, we categorize WLPs into two different types—work-oriented and life-oriented programs—and explore whether and how participating in distinct types of WLPs has varying impacts on employee work attitudes. A series of Mahalanobis distance matching is conducted using data from the 2011 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey. The results indicate that the use of life-oriented programs has a positive and substantive impact on employee satisfaction and commitment, while the effect of participating in work-oriented programs is not statistically significant

Designing Universal Family Care: State-Based Social Insurance Programs for Early Child Care and Education, Paid Family and Medical Leave, and Long-Term Services and Supports

Source: Benjamin W. Veghte, Alexandra L. Bradley, Marc Cohen, Heidi Hartmann, eds., National Academy of Social Insurance, June 2019

From the abstract:
This report explores strategies that states could pursue to better support families in meeting evolving care needs over the lifespan. The first three chapters of the report explore the challenges families face in the realms of early child care and education (ECCE), paid family and medical leave (PFML), and long-term services and supports (LTSS). For each care domain, the panel identifies policy options along with the tradeoffs associated with specific policy choices; this is done within the context of assuring universal access, affordability, and financial stability through well-defined financing mechanisms. The concluding chapter explores how an integrated approach to care policy might be designed—one offering families a single point of access to ECCE, PFML, and LTSS benefits—under an umbrella program called Universal Family Care. Each chapter outlines challenges that states would need to navigate regarding how a new social insurance program would relate to existing federal and state care programs. Each chapter also addresses implementation considerations.

This analysis was developed over a year of deliberations by a Study Panel of 29 experts in care policy from a variety of perspectives. The report does not include recommendations but instead identifies the building blocks and tradeoffs associated with a range of options in the design of a state-based social insurance program. While there are other approaches for improving care supports, this report focuses specifically on social insurance solutions. As well, while there is nothing that precludes such approaches from being adopted at the national level, the focus of this analysis is on the potential for state action. Although addressed primarily to state policymakers, this analysis should be of interest to providers, advocacy organizations, insurers, administrators, and federal policymakers, as well as to any person interested in these issues.

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Not In Labor: An Interview With Jenny Brown

Source: Liza Featherstone, Jacobin, April 23, 2019

In 2017, the birth rate in the United States reached an all-time low. In her new book Birth Strike: The Hidden Fight Over Women’s Work (PM Press), activist and author Jenny Brown argues that declining birth rates represent a work slowdown, or strike, in the face of the poor conditions for those who do the labor of bearing and raising children.

Like many of the classic texts of the Second Wave feminist movement, Brown’s book is her own, yet also a collective, intellectual endeavor, growing out of her organizing work with Redstockings and National Women’s Liberation, including those groups’ discussions and consciousness raising sessions….

Child Care Supply by Congressional District

Source: Leila Schochet and Rasheed Malik, Center for American Progress, April 10, 2019

When families have access to high-quality, affordable child care, they thrive. Parents can work to provide for their families, knowing their children are safe; and young children can learn and explore, creating a solid foundation for future learning and development.

Yet many families struggle because they cannot afford or find child care. High-quality child care is expensive to provide, and without public investment, those costs are passed along to parents. As a result, half of Americans live in child care deserts, communities where there are not enough licensed child care providers to serve the population of young children who need child care.

Increasing access to affordable, quality child care and making sure parents have options to choose from requires both Congress and elected state officials to provide more public funding for child care. It is critical to address the nation’s child care shortage without sacrificing program quality or endangering child safety just to cut costs. Congress can act by increasing funding for the Child Care and Development Block Grant and passing comprehensive reform that address affordability, quality, and higher wages for early educators.

Find your district using the dropdowns below:….

The Child Care Crisis Is Keeping Women Out of the Workforce

Source: Leila Schochet, Center for American Progress, March 28, 2019

More mothers would increase their earnings and seek new job opportunities if they had greater access to reliable and affordable child care. ….

….This report highlights the relationship between child care and maternal employment and underscores how improving child care access has the potential to boost employment and earnings for working mothers. Based on new analysis of the 2016 Early Childhood Program Participation Survey (ECPP), it demonstrates how families are having difficulty finding child care under the current system and how lack of access to child care may be keeping mothers out of the workforce. The report then presents results from a national poll conducted by the Center for American Progress and GBA Strategies, which asked parents what career decisions they would make if child care were more readily available and affordable. Finally, the report outlines federal policy solutions that are crucial to supporting mothers in the workforce. ….

Workism Is Making Americans Miserable

Source: Derek Thompson, The Atlantic, February 24, 2019

For the college-educated elite, work has morphed into a religious identity—promising identity, transcendence, and community, but failing to deliver.

…. The economists of the early 20th century did not foresee that work might evolve from a means of material production to a means of identity production. They failed to anticipate that, for the poor and middle class, work would remain a necessity; but for the college-educated elite, it would morph into a kind of religion, promising identity, transcendence, and community. Call it workism. ….

The soaring cost of US child care, in 5 charts

Source: Heidi Steinour, The Conversation, February 22, 2019

The cost of having children in the U.S. has climbed exponentially since the 1960s. So it’s no wonder the growing crop of Democratic presidential candidates have been proposing ways to address or bring down the costs tied to raising a family.

Most recently, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren said she wants to provide universal access to child care. According to her proposal, the U.S. would partner with local governments and other organizations to provide various child care options, paying for it with revenue from her wealth tax.

Whether or not Warren’s proposal becomes law, the data show a worsening problem. In 2015, American parents spent, on average, US$233,610 on child costs from birth until the age of 17, not including college. This number covers everything from housing and food to child care and transportation costs. This is up 8 percent from 1990.

As a mother myself, as well as a sociologist who studies families, I have experienced firsthand the unexpected costs associated with having a child. And this spike in costs has broad implications, including leading fewer families to have children…..

Understanding What Eldercare Means for Employees and Organizations: A Review and Recommendations for Future Research

Source: Katrina A Burch Alicia G Dugan Janet L Barnes-Farrell, Work, Aging and Retirement, Volume 5, Issue 1, 18 January 2019
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
The purpose of this article is to provide a contemporary, globally focused, multidisciplinary review of the existing literature on eldercare responsibilities and the implications of these responsibilities for working adults and organizations, taking a multilevel perspective. Two major reviews of the impact of eldercare responsibilities on work for employed informal caregivers have been conducted in the past 25 years. However, an update to the extant literature is warranted given that prior reviews have not taken a holistic perspective in understanding eldercare for employees and organizations. In addition, a number of empirical articles about work and informal elder caregiving have been published across multiple disciplines since these reviews were written. Utilizing and extending the work in prior reviews, we propose a model to serve as an organizing framework for understanding the informal eldercare process. Our model includes antecedents to—and consequences of—informal eldercare responsibilities and identifies components of a feedback loop. We also include a discussion of the resources available at the individual, family/social, organizational, and community levels that are available and useful in managing informal elder caregiving and paid employment. Finally, we identify gaps in the extant literature and provide recommendations for future research.

Treading Water: The Current Challenges of Women’s Work

Source: Shilpa Phadke and Diana Boesch, Center for American Progress, January 18, 2019

…. This column reviews how women’s work is segmented and undervalued; how workers at the margins—such as domestic workers, farm laborers, part-time workers, and gig economy workers—face persistent barriers and inequality; and how policymakers must prioritize centering workers’ voices and holistic needs and experiences as they craft meaningful economic policy. While this column does not detail the myriad ways in which women often struggle to maintain their economic security to the detriment of their health, it is important to emphasize that women do not live their lives in silos, and access to a range of programs and policies, such as comprehensive reproductive health services, as well as access to affordable education and skills-based learning, are critical to women’s economic success. ….